Lake Tahoe Tourist Brochure

We have an early collection of Lake Tahoe related promotional pamphlets and brochures which run from 1895 to 1935.  The brochures were published by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Lake Tahoe Railroad, and Lake Tahoe area hotels and attractions. These items came in over the years from various sources and folks so they were assembled as one unit, often times referred to as an “artificial collection” as there is no clear provenance.

These brochures help to document the opening of the Lake Tahoe area to the development of the tourist trade as well as the transportation links that assisted in getting passengers to the hotels and other establishments that catered to that clientele. One of my very favorite pieces in the collection was designed by the Southern Pacific Company, the first railroad to service Lake Tahoe as it crossed the continent to San Francisco.  It’s a double-sided piece, printed in green on a cardstock, but only five inches high by 3 inches wide.  I love miniatures which are well done so that is why it appeals to me so much.

On the main side of the card is text that declares that Lake Tahoe “is now in touch with the world.”  This fact is due to the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company completion of “a well-built and equipped line” of their railway from Truckee up the canyon to Tahoe City, “the first point of approach on Lake Tahoe.”

Excursion rates are outlined in the center with the travel times indicating when passengers would leave Truckee at 7:00 a.m., arrive in Tahoe City, having breakfast at the Tahoe Tavern, then can continue on one of the steamers—the “Tallac” or the “Meteor”—around the lake for a day trip.  Arriving back at Tahoe City would be the Tahoe Tavern’s supper, then traveling back to Truckee by 7:30 p.m.  Passengers can then utilize the Southern Pacific’s Pullman Sleeper cars in Truckee until their return to San Francisco.  All this roundtrip to and from Truckee could be had for $5.00, but on Sunday it would only cost $3.00.  If you wanted to take advantage of summering at the lake for a stay of up to 90 days, that would only cost $6.00.


The back of the card has an exquisitely drawn map of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding tourist spots or lodgings.  Such points of interest are marked as the Tahoe Tavern (of course), Hobart’s, McKinney’s, as well as the Glenbrook saw mill, Cave Rock, and Marlette Lake.  The stage road down from Glenbrook , now Highway 50, is indicated showing the connection at Carson City to the Virginia & Truckee Railroad to Reno which again links to the Southern Pacific line.  The terrain’s elevation is indicted by what is called “hachures” but there is a nice insert for the mountain altitudes at the bottom left corner and one at the right corner for each lake’s altitude.  Distances are also given for areas and tourist destinations around the lake.

This little gem is not dated, but it was probably published about the time the Lake Tahoe Railway and Transportation Company completed its line, which would place it about 1900.


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